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SCO Leaders Reject Force In Iran, Syria

June 07, 2012


Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Beijing have opposed any international use of force in Iran, saying such a move could threaten global security.

The leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan said in a joint statement signed at the end of a two-day summit on June 7 that "any attempts to solve the Iranian problem with force are unacceptable and could lead to unpredictable circumstances."

On Syria, the leaders called for dialogue to address the violence there.

The statement said SCO member states were “against military intervention into [the Middle East’s] affairs, forcing a 'handover of power' or using unilateral sanctions."

The declaration signed by the six leaders denounced the continuing violence in Syria, but emphasized the potential role of the UN Security Council in restoring order in that country.

Russia and China, permanent veto-holding members of the Security Council, have repeatedly blocked efforts by other Security Council members to pressure the Syrian government to halt violence against opposition supporters. Moscow is a longtime ally and weapons supplier to the Syrian regime.

Afghan Influence

The SCO also granted Afghanistan observer status, putting it on the same level as Iran, Pakistan, India, and Mongolia.

Analysts say the move can be seen a part of an effort by Russia, China, and their allies to increase their influence in Afghanistan as most NATO-led troops prepare to withdraw from the war-torn country by the end of 2014.

A joint declaration released by the six Shanghai members said they supported the establishment in Afghanistan of an "independent, neutral, peaceful state free from terrorism and narco-criminality." The statement also backed an Afghan-led reconciliation process.

Many Islamist militant groups operating in Russia, China, and Central Asia have roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas.

The Shanghai statement also rejected the deployment of missile-defense systems either "by one state or a group of states," saying such actions represented a "threat to international security."

The declaration did not specifically mention U.S.-European plans to deploy a NATO shield to guard against a missile threat from Iran or another nation. Moscow has for years warned against such a system, saying the system could evolve to eventually threaten Russian national security.

The six also agreed to continue working toward the creation of a Shanghai group Development Bank and Fund. Work has started in that project, but the declaration released on June 7 called for speeding up the process.

Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke of increased cooperation to make the SCO an effective force against Islamist terrorism and criminal activities in the Central Asian region.

"Faced with a situation of deep changes in the international situation and increasing terrorism, separatism, extremism, and other international criminal activities, we consistently believe that member states should increase their ability to warn against crises and manage emergencies, and make the SCO an effective and reliable force to protecting regional security," Hu said.

The Chinese president also announced Beijing would extend some $10 billion in loans to some SCO members. He gave no details on which countries would receive the funds.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS, AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa, and Interfax

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/sco-summit-rejects-force-iran-syria/24606443.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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